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Saxophones Student Saxophone

Jackal293

New Member
Messages
7
Locality
St Albans UK
Hello all,

A few months ago I became the proud owner of a YTS-280 tenor sax. I am hugely enjoying learning this fantastic instrument but as yet, do not have a teacher. (This is on my to do list for the winter as I am extremely busy at work during summer). Therefore, I have a few questions I wonder if you could help me with:

1. What are the main differences between a "student" sax and a professional level one? Are the former considered more forgiving or easier to blow with perhaps a trade off for being less expressive sounding?

2. With daily practice, six times a week for about an hour each session. How long roughly should it take to build up a strong, stable embouchure?

3. Even though my instrument is brand new, should I hand it over to a technician to give it a thorough check over or are Yamaha saxes pretty much ready to go right of the shelf?

4. Are there any recommendations for good teachers and technicians in or around harpenden or St Albans?

thanks in advance.

Carl
 

Jamesmac

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,872
Hi Carl
i just want to make one very important point. It's wrong to think that the embouchure is similar to lifting weights. The most important part of an embouchure is its flexibility. There are lots of studies that can help you with that. There is a myth that a bigger tip a harder reed and a pair of lips that can extract a nail from a block of wood is a goal to reach. Practice your long notes by all means, but do it in conjunction with your attack and tuning.:)
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Café Supporter
Messages
8,729
Locality
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
Hi Carl,

1. It used to be that professional saxes had more features such as adjustable thumb rests, adjustable felt bumpers, high F#, better ergonomics, engraving, etc. With the advent of the Taiwan saxophones becoming much better quality all of the features that used to be only on professional saxes are now on entry level instruments.

At present, the difference between a student model saxophone and a professional model saxophone has more to do with the attention to quality control in the manufacturing process, the quality of materials, and of course the price. I would not say that one level of saxophone is harder or easier to play than the other, although my experience has been that the larger bores and bells of pro horns make it easier to get more volume and projection if that is what you are looking for.

2. If your practice includes long tones and playing slow songs each day, it should take only about 2 to 3 weeks to build the muscle tone required for a well developed embouchure. Some beginners work so hard on this aspect that they end up learning to "bite" with too much pressure. You can check your embouchure tightness from time to time by playing the mouthpiece and neck separately. The tenor should produce an E concert, the alto an Ab concert.

3. That is a good idea with any make or model. Things can move during shipping and handling in the music store. It is easy to develop bad habits when learning to play on a saxophone that leaks or is out of proper adjustment.

4. I don't know about your area, but you can take some video lessons from Eugene Rousseau at Steps to Excellence
 

ProfJames

Elementary member
Messages
12,069
Locality
Berkshire, UK
"At present, the difference between a student model saxophone and a professional model saxophone has more to do with the attention to quality control in the manufacturing process, the quality of materials, and of course the price. I would not say that one level of saxophone is harder or easier to play than the other, although my experience has been that the larger bores and bells of pro horns make it easier to get more volume and projection if that is what you are looking for."

With your learned statement in mind when you look at saxophones such as Cannonball, Stephanhouser, etc who make intermediate horns would you regard these horns as "professional" standard because of the way they are built? They in turn have their own professional models.


 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,215
Locality
Skabertawe, South Wales
Hi there!

Regarding embouchure I think that it takes a few months to develop a good, strong flexible embouchure - when I have heard people who have been at it for several weeks I usually find that tone quality is poor, and the strength is not yet there, and neither is the breathing efficiency and similar. Gradually it all starts to come together and become more efficient and the embouchure has a natural strength which means that players stop having such a tight grip which allows for much better sound overall.

In my own experience I would say that pro saxes often have/allow a better tone quality (often richer, more complex or with more depth) than a student sax which can tend towards a simpler less complex tone, though the tone ultimately comes from the player - i.e. some saxes can limit/impede the tone of an experienced player, whereas a pro horn may be more facilitative/enhancing of the player's own sound. This is true of other instruments. I have two pro cornets (Conn Connstellation 28A and Weril Regium II) which produce a rich resonant tone, whereas my experience on a 2 series Yamaha Long Cornet was that it sounded less alive and simple in comparison.

Regarding teachers in your area the enclosed is a list of sax teachers in Hertfordshire, from the www.musicteachers.co.uk website:
http://www.musicteachers.co.uk/search?mode=submit&type=1&keywords=&instrument=tenor+sax&region=20
The general advice is to ring a prospective teacher to see whether you get on with them and speak your language, and share your particular interest in what you want to get from learning the sax. For me I have always been more interested in learning Jazz (from the 60's onwards, including Latin, Ska, Reggae and similar) than Classical music and have had to be open about what I'm looking for to get good results.

Hope this helps.
Tom
 

Jackal293

New Member
Messages
7
Locality
St Albans UK
Wow,
thanks to all for these very detailed and informative replies. You have all very kindly answered my newbie questions fully for which I am very grateful.
I have decided to find a teacher a little sooner than planned as I think my lack of music theory knowledge is already going to slow my progression. This has become apparent while working through John O'Neill's jazz method for saxophone which, seems to get very music theory technical very quickly! I could just skip over this and keep playing through the book but I think this will be a big mistake further down the line. Especially if I want to play with other musicians at a later stage.
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,215
Locality
Skabertawe, South Wales
Its a very good book to start on. I also played the equivalent book on trumpet which was tremendously useful too!

Good luck!
Tom
 

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